Synopsis – The flightless birds and scheming green pigs take their feud to the next level.
My Take – Can you believe it has been ten years since the first Angry Birds game came out? While mobile gaming has certainly evolved in the past decade, this best seller from the Finnish company Rovio Entertainment, still remains relevant with their 18th installment releasing as recent as February 2019.
While rolling out merchandise based on the success of its casual puzzle game play was understandable, a film adaption based on the app just seemed like a big stretch.
However, upon release, the 2016 computer-animated comedy became a surprise box office smash by grossing about $352.3 million worldwide.
With a cast filled with SNL alumni and other famous comedians, the film adaption happened to be surprisingly pretty silly and enjoyable thanks to its clever writing, tongue-in-cheek attitude and a story that ended conclusively with a satisfying growth for its protagonists.
While the film didn’t necessarily demand a sequel, especially keeping in mind, how would one stretch out a war of pranks between flightless birds and green colored pigs? But here we are with Thurop Van Orman marking his directorial debut by taking over from original directors Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly. And as shocking as this might sound, the sequel actually improves on its predecessor.
Yes, it is sillier and feels more clichéd this time around, but there is still plenty to entertain the little ones throughout and, has just enough for the adults to enjoy without worrying about its run time. The sequel is more of a perfect holiday film that is low on focus but high on enthusiasm and is filled with a non-stop roll of comedy antics, making it a lot more fun than the original film and there are not many sequels that can say that.
Set after the events of the first film, the story once again follows Red (voiced by Jason Sudeikis), who is in a much happier place than before. His trademark temper is under control and life is good as he is considered a local hero thanks to his efforts in defeating the invading Pigs and their leader King Leonard (voiced by Bill Hader).
Standing constantly as a defense to Bird Island, along with his mates, Chuck (voiced by Josh Gad), the hyperactive speedster and Bomb (voiced by Danny McBride), the ticking time bomb, Red and Leonard’s prankish rivalry remains constantly sustained. However, when Pig Island is hit with a massive ice ball, Leonard discovers a third island.
Calling for a truce, Leonard seeks out an alliance with the Birds to take down this new island’s leader, Zeta (voiced by Leslie Jones), a vengeful eagle, who has been plotting to claim both the islands for herself, and put an end to her reign of terror.
While Red is skeptical at first, he sees this as an opportunity to play hero again, and readily gathers a team that includes, Chuck, Bomb, Mighty Eagle (voiced by Peter Dinklage), Chuck’s sister Sliver (voiced by Rachael Bloom), and Leonard, along with his assistant Courtney (voiced by Awkwafina) and gadgets guy Garry (voiced by Sterling K. Brown), to destroy Zeta’s weapon before it destroys them.
In a subplot, hatchlings Zoe (voiced by Brooklynn Prince), Beatrice (voiced by Faith Urban) and Lily (voiced by Sunday Urban) accidentally lose track of Zoe’s unhatched siblings, taking them on a journey of their own.
An animated sequel inspired by an iPhone app isn’t, I’ll concede, the most promising film premise, but the second installment is much funnier than it had the right to be. Admittedly, the relentless jukebox soundtrack gets a bit tiresome, there are plenty of distractions in what is a fun-filled follow-up.
Unlike its predecessor, it moves fast enough to cover up its mistakes, for every joke that doesn’t land, for example the speed dating sequence was a huge miss, there’s a good one to follow it up, and just as you’re wondering why the story is so thin, a hilarious action sequence distracts you.
Running at 96 minutes the sequel has thrown in some excellent gags, best of all being the extended sequence in a men’s urinal with the team dressed in a comic eagle costume that they can’t quite co-ordinate. I am embarrassed to admit that made me laugh out loud.
Even the hardest hearts will find it hard to resist chuckling at scenes like the impromptu dance battle with a security guard, or ‘Squeal Team Six’s’ bungled invasion of Red’s house, or the ‘Taking out’ sequence with a ‘Baby Shark’ number, or the ‘Space Oddity’ song pictured on the hatchlings when they mistakenly fly into space.
There are lots of little moments to giggle at along the way that should appeal to both young children and accompanying grown-ups.
Even the Eagle Island itself acted like an excellent gag throughout, for example it is covered in ice, and its leader, Zeta, tries her best to treat it like a tropical paradise, lounging in a frozen pool or trying to take a shower with ice shards. She also has a Chihuahua dog frozen in a block of ice that she keeps trying to feed, but he can’t eat because he’s in a block of ice. It’s incredibly stupid, but it made me laugh, which is how a lot of the gags function in the film.
Where the first film made an effort to introduce elements of the game, from slingshots and trampolines, to showcasing the characters destructive capabilities, here we have a very generic Mission: Impossible-style plot, which could have featured any group of computer generated characters. The film’s visuals and animation as one would expect are also great.
Naturally, the film doesn’t contain any of the deep emotion that you have come to expect from the likes of Pixar or Laika. Attempts are made to show Red being unsure about his future as a hero, but being worried about not being a famous person with lots of friends isn’t a particularly compelling conflict.
I was thankful to see the film dodge the familiar trope of awarding all the credit of victory to the protagonist, despite the credit truly belonging to the team and the brilliant engineer who orchestrated and executed the ultimately, successful plan. The sequel also lacks the legitimate danger of the first film, but the jokes-per-minute ratio is so high, you are just not bothered after a while.
The voice cast also does a good job. Returning actors, like Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Bill Hader, Danny McBride, and Peter Dinklage are hilarious as always. While an array of celebrity voices that includes Maya Rudolph, Awkwafina, Tiffany Haddish, Nicki Minaj, Pete Davison, Eugenio Derbez, Dove Cameron, Lil Rey Howery, Sterling K Brown and Zach Woods also play their parts well.
However, it’s the addition of Rachel Bloom and Leslie Jones that freshen up the proceedings. The little ones, Brooklynn Prince, Faith Urban and Sunday Urban are adorable. On the whole, ‘The Angry Birds Movie 2’ is a pleasingly silly sequel that is a colorful, creative and most importantly hilarious.
Directed – Thurop Van Orman
Rated – PG
Run Time – 96 minutes